The Simple Life and a Simple Stir Fry

Since January 2018, I’ve had to put my pursuit of flavor aside due to events beyond my control. Recently though I had a hankering for “meat and veggies.” (Vegetarian friends, please look away!) Beef, bacon, broccoli, and brown rice sounded good.

While that concoction doesn’t look like much (thanks to a rainy spell and Oklahoma’s fickle photographic conditions) it tasted SO good, The Man Of Few Words had seconds and I ate the rest. :)

Truthfully it’s been a tough year. At one point I thought about deep-sixing blogging, but that would’ve meant giving up sharing sporadic inspirations with you. My heart just couldn’t accommodate that. Plus I have a story or two left to tell — and I love reading YOURS! Bonus points for yummy recipes.

In the meantime, I’ve found a new outlet for my dormant culinary dreams. Once a week some of my newfound friends and I gather to have a glass of good wine and “munchies.” How could I not cook for them?! They bring the wine and I bring the FOOD! (It was the least I could do to show my appreciation.)

Tonight’s impromptu repast consisted of marinated mushrooms, garlic & herb roasted baby Yukon potatoes, and kalamata olives. Simple fare. Speaking of which, I’m smack dab in the middle of a much simpler life. After I turned 60 (gasp!) I realized that I’ve entered my last go-round on this planet. Every day and every flavor counts. I intend to make the most of them and share my flavor innovations with my friends. (TMOFW, too!) I even brought home an exercise bike yesterday. Yikes…

Getting back to that stir-fry, it was basically a half-pound of bacon cut into “lardons” and sauteed until crisp (drained on paper towels); a pound of 80/20 ground chuck browned with chopped onions and minced garlic (added at the last minute) in the bacon drippings and a “steamer bag” of broccoli nuked in the microwave. (Ordinarily I’d steam a fresh head of broccoli, but time was of the essence.) Then I added previously cooked brown rice seasoned with Himalayan sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Easy peasy!

Here’s a close up:

Bacon Broccoli Burger Brown Rice 2.JPG

The simplest pleasures in life — the simple life — are best.  Live yours and don’t look back. But please continue to share your recipes. :)

Enjoying a scaled back perspective and GOOD FOOD,

~ Kim

In My Kitchen ~ November 2014

Chocolates from Wayne & Dawn

In My Kitchen are were these spicy, chocolate-y, Tabasco-infused treats that Wayne & Dawn Nix of Louisiana shared with me in September. (See my Running Away From Home post for “why.”) I’m also still drooling over the gluten-free chestnut flour brownies shared by Celia in her October IMK post her most requested recipe to date! (Which says a lot to me, even if I’m a month late mentioning it.) Chocolate is always worth mentioning twice!

Coconut Oil

In My Kitchen… is organic coconut oil. (Sorry for the slightly fuzzy photo, but I’m still slightly fuzzy about what to do with it!) The question foremost on my mind is: “Can I use it like butter in cookie recipes?” The holidays are just around the corner and I’m craving home-baked cookies. What’s your opinion (or experience) on substituting it for ‘other fats’? I love coconut… and fats… (busted, lol!) and I’d really  appreciate your helpful hints, comments, and recommendations on incorporating this new-to-me oil into my holiday baking & cooking. Thanks!

Beef Broccoli

In My Kitchen is the most unorthodox (and most un-Asian?) pairing of flavors — beef, broccoli, and Bleu cheese stir fry. (Sorry, no recipe… it was a “one-time inspiration”… tasty, too.) Remind me to keep a pen & paper In My Kitchen! This dish was soooo playful I couldn’t resist doing the photo in ‘cartoon mode.’ (Life’s too short not to play!)

I’d also like to express my sincere, heartfelt thanks to all of you who commented on my previous posts (minus my usual enthusiastic reply…) — I truly appreciated your caring, sympathy, and concern, but I wasn’t quite up to par yet. Again, thanks! xoxo

And, thanks Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial for hostessing this fun monthly event! For details on how to join — or to see kitchens & goodies from ’round the world — please click on the link to Celia’s blog.

Enjoying playing In My Kitchen again,

~ Kim

A Chicken By Any Other Name

I like surprises, don’t you?  They keep life fresh and interesting, especially when it comes to relationships. ;)

But first, allow me to share an unexpected award from my lovely friend at Shirley’s Luxury Haven!

Shirley bestowed this award upon me recently (as well as the Versatile Blogger Award, which I’d previously received and passed along), so I’ll limit my acceptance to the “Cherry On Top Award” with grateful thanks for BOTH!  If you haven’t visited Shirley’s blog, please click on the link above and prepare to be pampered, amazed and delighted! 

Before passing along this award, I did some “research” and again found a variety of protocols to follow.  I’m not sure why they change along the way, but here’s what I found…

Answer this question: “If you could go back and change anything about your life, what would it be and why?”; Share your favorite photo (not necessarily food); Pass it on to 15…10…6… other bloggers; Tell 6…7…10…things about yourself, etc…

Instead, I hope you don’t mind if I make make up my own rules.  Here are five exceptional bloggers who truly put that “little bit extra” into all they do — hence the “Cherry On Top!” Please pass this onto bloggers who you feel do the same and include any or all of the above — or not.  Surprise!

1)  Isabelle At Home

2)  Basilmomma

3)  Cooking Healthy For Me

4)  The Culinary Lens

5)  ChopinandMySaucepan

Congratulations Isabelle, Heather, Ann, Mike, and Chopin & Mysaucepan — and thanks again, Shirley!  Your blogs keep me inspired, happy, cooking, and SURPRISED!

Okay, back to the topic at hand…

Back when the hubby and I were newlyweds (many moons ago), he surprised me by informing me that “chicken once a week” was often enough for him. (A surprise to this poultry lover!)  Seems he’d eaten a fair share of fowl in his bachelor days and he was ready for some meat and potatoes cookin’, ala yours truly.  No problem, though.  I’ve had free reign in the kitchen, as well as his respect and confidence in my ability to manage the grocery budget — and menus — at my discretion.  LOVE IT!  LOVE HIM!

Then one dark and stormy night…  I roasted a whole chicken.

Generally on such occasions, I’d “break it down” after dinner, freeze the leftovers and reintroduce them somewhere past Day 7 the following week.  (Or make separate meals to accommodate both of our tastes.)  The things we do for love!

But, it was late and I was tired, so I wrapped what was left of that delectable chicken and put it in the fridge.  I was also pressed for time for dinner prep the following night.  What to do…

The opposite of surprise in a relationship is familiarity.  It’s that lovely/loving quality that emerges over time, like the patina on a cherished piece of furniture or the hugged-thin spots on a favorite teddy bear’s coat.  Somehow, I just knew my man wouldn’t mind “Chicken Round Two” given the circumstances.

(It’s like those times when I’ve added an extra handful of breadcrumbs to a meatloaf or a couple of extra egg whites to an omelette) — he trusts my judgement and expects good food!  Plus, I had a hankerin’ for something chicken-y and — well — the only trick was getting around the title.  (I wasn’t being deceptive… just “creative”…  make that familiar.)

How do you not mention chicken, as in: “Sweet-Sour Chicken?”

Sweet-Sour Chicken

2 chicken breasts, cooked and cubed (I used leftovers…)

1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced

1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced

1 sweet yellow onion, diced

1 (20 oz.) can of pinepple tidbits, drained (reserve juice)

2 T. oil (I used part sesame oil/part olive oil)

Sweet-Sour Sauce (recipe follows)

Hot cooked rice

For the sauce:

1 T. reserved pineapple juice

1 T. cornstarch

1/2 c. Turbinado sugar

1/2 c. soy sauce

1/4 c. white vinegar (apple cider vinegar is good, too)

1 clove of garlic, finely minced

1/2 t. ground ginger (or freshly grated ginger if you have it)

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Prepare the main ingredients first.  (You’ll want them ready to wok and roll when your oil gets hot. :)  Set aside.

In a small saucepan, combine sugar, soy sauce, vinegar and seasonings; heat until boiling.  Combine the reserved pineapple juice (1 T.) with cornstarch; whisk into sauce.  (Keep whisking — it thickens fast!)  Remove from heat when mixture becomes thickened and bubbly; set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the oil (whatever combo you choose) in a wok or large skillet.  Add peppers and onions; sauté until the veggies are nearly cooked; push to the side.

Add pineapple tidbits; allow them to caramelize a bit before giving everything a good stir.  Place cooked, cubed chicken over the top.  At this point, remove the pan from the heat and cover — since the chicken was already cooked, it only needs to reheat.

When warmed to your liking, uncover and stir in sauce until everything is coated — or serve on the side if you like.  Ladle over hot cooked rice.  Chopsticks optional.

When my hubby dearest walked through the door that night and asked “What’s for supper,” I answered with a cheerful (and truthful), “Try this!” and gave him a taste.  His reaction…?

The Man Of Few Words aka Man Of Fewer Chicken Dinners said:  “This is really good!”

After the first helping, he dished up seconds.  After the second helping, he admitted to contemplating thirds!  (Which is very unlike him.)  When he got up from the table he asked, “So what did you say this stuff was called again?”

I grinned and replied:  “Stir Fry.” … ;)

Enjoying life’s little surprises,

~ Kim